Source: Agencies/Shanghai Daily | 2013-2-3 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
LOOKS unveiled at Paris Haute Couture Week Spring/Summer 2013 are inspired by French formal gardens, palaces, Napoleonic salons and "Life of Pi." Looks are sumptuous, shimmery, voluminous. There's Indian exotica, perhaps too much, flowers and sequins, perhaps too many, and a delicate fairy tale feeling - also perhaps too much. But there's also black, boldness and a welcome dash of the wicked witch.
Jean Paul Gaultier
Did "Life of Pi" inspire Jean Paul Gaultier's latest collection? Or was it exotic Bombay dreaming that led to his quirky, theatrical, spring/summer 2013 couture show?
Whatever the reason, an India theme featuring one shoulder sari-styles, scarves and silk "shalwar" pants all made for a fun, endearing display. Guests even chuckled to Edith Piaf's "La vie en rose" in Hindi while seated in rows named after Indian foods.
There were some vibrant East-meets-West looks.
One strong-shouldered European Spencer jacket came in paprika-colored shantung with a skirt, over a cumin-colored muslin dress - evoking Indian-style layering. "Life of Pi," the tale of a boy and tiger stranded at sea that is now a hit movie, begins in French-Indian Pondicherry, and the program notes call this look: "She came from Pondicherry."
Still, the exuberance translated a little too much into the clothes that were at times too theatrical.
Gaucho-style fringing mixed with Madonna-style "Blonde Ambition" corsets, gypsy detailing, seventies disco, and a 1950s look.
Only a master like Gaultier can pull off something this eclectic, but sometimes even for him, it can be a case of too many spices spoil the couture broth.
One palace, 90 oak trees and more than 3,000 bushes is the kind of luxury that spells only one thing: Chanel haute couture.
The natural landscape framed a spring/summer 2013 show in which Karl Lagerfeld put a contemporary, floral spin on the dropped shoulders of 19th-century France's Second Empire.
Revelers shivered as they entered a near-freezing glen inside Paris Grand Palais. But for the upbeat Lagerfeld, the season was one of optimism.
"It's not cold, it's just fresh. Spring is in the air," he said.
Models with 19th century-style feathers cascading from their hair sported looks in silk, lace and tulle.
Dropped-square shoulders defined the aesthetic. They mirrored the style under Emperor Napoleon III - and sleeves were separated at the top to evoke an aristocratic glove.
But 1870s France was only a pit-stop in a show that featured glistening Asiatic-style silks with floral embroideries and contemporary voluminous shoulders - twinned with thigh-high boots that ranged from 1960s lace to futurist silver.
With Chanel, there is always more than meets the eye. Here, that was found in the tweed - or the lack of it. All the skirt suits resembling tweed were, in fact, fastidiously woven silk ribbons and lashings of braided tulle.
"Don't forget, this is haute couture," noted Lagerfeld.
A garden within a garden was the setting for Christian Dior's flower-obsessed - and typically decadent - couture show.
Carrying on with the "flower women" theme of designer Raf Simons' last offering, landscape artist Martin Wirtz recreated a scented French garden from Paris' famed Jardin des Tuileries.
Spring was indeed in the air.
The flower theme was most obviously expressed in floral embroideries. The floral reference was less subtle than last season, which played more with the inverted flower silhouette of Dior's famous 1947 "New Look."
"I wanted to do a very self-explanatory collection," Simons said. "I wanted it to be about the very idea of spring."
True, his spring/summer show saw multi-layered flower appliques that increased - like a blossom - as the 47 looks progressed. It was a nice idea, but detailed gold, yellow and blue appliques sometimes got the better of the silhouette, and detracted from the gowns.